Can we live on $33 a week?

For the month of May, I’m thinking—just thinking, mind you—about slashing my grocery budget. The last time I tracked my expenditures, I spent $280 on food in a month on three people. (We also entertained five house guests during that time.) So this May, I’m thinking of going much, much lower: $33 a week. That figure will include going out to eat, which just might put a cramp in our weekly brunching habit.

Time to dust off the homemade bagel recipe.

What do you think? Can we feed a family of three on $33 a week without starving or subjecting ourselves to a month of beans, rice, and ramen? Give me your advice for cheap eating!


  1. Wow! I can’t even feed a family of 3 on $280 a month, NOT including going out to eat (which is primarily just me, at lunch, because I work outside the home). I know you posted about this before but I would still love to hear your tips. (Of course, I think part of our problem is that we don’t eat the same things as each other most of the time.)

  2. I hope we can do it! When I tracked our expenditures last year and came up with that $280 figure, I wasn’t including going out to eat. The $33/week WILL include going out to eat (which means, I assume, that we won’t go out at all). Stay tuned. I’m going to do this!

  3. Here’s my tip: cash in all your IOU’s for people taking YOU out to eat or inviting you over for dinner. That will help you not miss going out, and also help your budget. Knowing you, I’m guessing you will be able to pull off the $33/week thing, but you will end up using a bunch of things from your pantry and by the end of the experiment you will have to re-stock. I have often wondered how long I could go without going to the store, or only buying cheap basics. Considering I have 200 pounds of flour in my house right now, I could probably survive a zombie apocalypse. You are welcome to come over for it if you like, or even just for dinner.

  4. I am rooting for you. We come nowhere close to that for our family of three, but am looking forward to seeing your progress. Speaking of “stock”, what do you and other followers think about club stores like Sam’s and Costco?? Worth it? We have a Sam’s near our new house and are thinking of jo

  5. …thinking of joining.

  6. Clean out the freezer and pantry!

  7. Thanks for your support, everyone! Gina, I will definitely cash in on those IOUs. When can we come over?

    Rebekah, when I do this challenge I won’t go to Costco or Sam’s club or anything like that. I will stick with Fred Meyer, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s, just because I live within walking distance of them. I do think you can get good deals at Costco, but not always. The last time I checked, the huge jumbo-pack of peanut butter from Costco cost more than a regular normal-size jar from TJ’s. Another thing to keep in mind is that a lot of people over-buy at Costco and end up wasting food. If you have a big family it’s probably more useful.

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